tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN February 1, 2017 7:00am-8:01am PST
>> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. and good morning, i'm carol costello. thank you so much for joining me. we do begin with breaking news, face-off on capitol hill, boy, it's getting ugly. democrats and republicans clashing over president trump's cabinet nominees. the news is fast-breaking here. let's start with manu raju, breaking all kinds of news this morning, good morning, manu. >> reporter: good morning, carol. senate republicans took a dramatic and unprecedented step today in the senate finance committee by suspending the rules of the committee and sending two nominees of donald trump's cabinet to the floor of the senate. those two nominees, tom price to lead health and human services, and steven mnuchin to lead the treasury department. the reason why they took this dramatic step is because for the second straight day, democrats
boycotted the committee proceedings because of their concerns that both mr. price and mr. mnuchin did not answer their questions correctly and in a straightforward manner in their sworn testimony last month. now, what the republicans decided to do was, instead of -- there were two options. she could either see donald trump send these two nominees, install these two nominees on his own by a recess appointment, something he could do under his constitutional authority, or take this dramatic step of suspending the rules altogether and pushing these nominees through to the floor on their own accord. and that is the course they took. now, democrats are outraged by this. they put out a letter just moments before this 9:30 hearing and said they wanted a bunch of answers to questions that they believe that price and mnuchin did not answer correctly in their hearing. but they're not going to get answers to those questions as republicans take matters into their own hands, believing that democrats are doing whatever they can to delay donald trump
from getting his cabinet in place. so expect this to get even more intense on the floor of the senate where the votes will happen in the coming weeks and donald trump will eventually get those nominees confirmed because republicans have the majority and they have the votes on the floor of the senate, carol. >> all right, manu, you stay right there. i want to bring phil mattingly in, he was in that finance committee hearing where this all went down. it must have been dramatic. >> reporter: yeah, look, carol, i've covered the hill off and on pretty much over the course of the last decade. i've never seen anything like that. it follows something we hadn't seen yesterday, democrats deciding not to show up at all. manu gave a great breakdown of how it all happened. you have to pull back and look at the big picture of what's happening in the u.s. senate. we saw it with jeff sessions, the attorney general nominee, yesterday. he was supposed to be confirmed in full committee, but democrats came in and filibustered the committee.
i was just told the omb director, his confirmation vote, carol, has also been postponed today because democrats -- mick mulvaney, because democrats are saying his paperwork isn't completed. democrats are trying to pull every procedural lever they can get their hands on to slow this process up. democrats say they haven't gotten their questions answered. senate finance democrats don't believe steve mnuchin or tom price have answered very key questions. with mick mulvaney, they didn't get the fbi background check until ten minutes before this nomination was considered. in judiciary, democrats are unanimously opposed to jeff sessions. why does it all matter? there's a new president, he wants his team in place. democrats are trying to slow this process down as much as possible on procedural grounds. it's worth noting, carol, they can't actually stop these nominees. if republicans stick together, and by all accounts on every single one of these nominees they will, these nominees will
be approved on the senate floor and take their slots in the trump cabinet. but what you're seeing, what democrats are doing right now is in the minority, even in the u.s. senate, no matter how much in the minority you are, you have leverage to pull, you have some leverage, you can't block it but you can definitely slow it down. that's what we're seeing, really across the senate over the course of the last couple of days and really kind of reaching a new fevered pitch this morning, carol. >> and here i thought they were much more cooperative in the senate. >> reporter: the interesting part is the senate finance committee, where the mnuchin and price debacle just occurred, is known as one of the most bipartisan committees on the hill. it's the committee responsible for tax and trade policy. they're known as a very bipartisan committee. ranking member ron wyden and/or -- and orrin hatch, work well together. but now year seeing mutual
distrust. to your point, this is supposed to be the saucer that cools the madness that may occur in the house, when you talk about the u.s. senate. but we're starting to see that break down. and given how early it is in this new congress, how early it is in the trump administration, the big agenda items that the trump administration wants to move forward legislatively, and they've got a supreme court pick they want confirmed too, this is getting ugly. >> senator hatch called democrats idiots and said they were shameful as he was leaving the senate finance committee just now. >> reporter: that's right, pretty strong words, a man never known to mince words, orrin hatch. these fights, to phil's point, have gotten more intense congress by congress. you saw last congress, republicans refusing to give merrick garland even a vote or a hearing, of course he was obama's pick to be the supreme
court nominee, that ninth justice, they didn't even allow for a hearing, kept that seat vacant for over a year, a rather unprecedented move in that regard, democrats paying back republicans now. you see this happening on both sides, this fight really escalating. the question is how do democrats deal with the other big picks looming including neil gorsuch as president trump's supreme court nominee. democrats are not of one mind on that, actually divided on that key question, whether or not to give donald trump's nominee, supreme court nominee a vote. so we'll see. it's going to be a case-by-case basis. but one of the things that could impact it is donald trump's agenda if the senate floor is tied up with these nomination fights, because democrats can tie up the senate under the rules and delay the process and
delay donald trump from getting some of his agenda through in a timely fashion. >> thanks to both of you. i want to bring in some more people to talk about this. lynn sweet, washington bureau chief for "the washington sun times." larry sabato, director of the university of virginia center for politics. hi. so lynn, republicans suspended the rules and they're going to push these confirmations through. put it into perspective for us. >> i think the perspective is that you really do have to just look back to the merrick garland fight. you can look back more into senate history, of which there is an abundance, carol and larry. that's the starting point for the discussion. the supreme court nomination of merrick garland could not get a hearing because republicans were in control. the trump supreme court nominee is going to get a hearing, his nominations for cabinet members do get hearings. there will be more of an
emphasis on procedure in this first weeks than on necessarily the policy underlying these nominees, because i always look at the math, okay? and if you need the 60% rule, which will be invoked in some places in the senate, but we'll get back to that, or if you need 50, that's what we're seeing now. there are many reasons why you get to the democrats being against sessions. but they're there. and with these other nominees not even putting in all the information and answering questions, it makes it easier for democrats to say, we're not going to even show up. but in the end, there are a lot of procedures, republicans pull the levers, and that's where we are in the procedural political minefield. >> and these men and women will likely be confirmed, larry. what's the end game for the democrats? >> well, the end game is to draw as much blood as possible from the senate republican leadership and from president trump and his
administration, to miake everything as hard as possible, to take as long as possible. to be fair, that's what republicans did under president obama once they got control of the house and senate. to it's tit for tat. for democrats, the slogan is not remember the main, it's remember merrick garland, because this was truly unprecedented, that a president had a year left in his term, and his nominee for the supreme court, duly nominated, was not even given a hearing much less a vote on the floor. so there's tremendous unhappiness, not just among the democrats in the senate, but among deputies generalmocrats g. i think this will set the tone frankly for the administration.
>> john, thanks for chiming in, and we want to hear from you, what do you make of what's going on in the senate right now? >> well, look, the democrats are mad as hornets. they lost an election they thought they were going to win. as your other guest just mentioned, they're certainly mad as hornets about merrick garland. jeff merkley, the senator from oregon, is referring to this as a stolen seat and has vowed before the nominee was even named to lead a filibuster. i'm skeptical whether they'll be able to do that successfully. but no question they're going to make a lot of noise and drag this process out. and it won't be pleasant for judge gorsuch. >> lynn, i want to pose this question to you, because i've been thinking about this throughout our discussion. these massive protests are going on across the country, right? and the democrats are doing this kind of stuff in the senate to
try to slow things and make things more difficult for the republicans and for president trump. president obama recently chimed in over this travel ban thing, right? so what if president obama starts to become more and more vocal? >> i think if your question is what's the impact, carol, i think it could be. i think, you know, president obama i think, former president obama, will weigh in when trump deals with things that you might think of are his legacy items or the points of principles. we could scour obama's speeches and within ten minutes come up with multiple references of how he is not targeting muslims, he's targeting people who are dangerous. words that trump hasn't said enough, or that he said he hasn't said enough. he's encouraging people to demonstrate. we're in a lot of new territory,
carol, and i'm not the only one to say this. a lot of uncharted territory. dragging out the nominations in the senate will have a shelf life in the finite time, all of that can't be dropped. remember, the democrats couldn't get the mexican ambassador under obama passed for a year. going back to the role of obama, it's there if he chooses to use it. >> lynn, i'm going to have to interrupt you guys for just a second. this is president trump, holding an african-american history month listening session. let's listen in. >> we did well in the election, we came out really well. next time we'll triple it or quadruple it. we want to get over 51, right? at least 51. this is black history month. so this is our little breakfast, our little get together. hi, lynn, how are you? nice to see you. just a few notes, during this month we honor the tremendous
history of the african-americans throughout our country, throughout the world if you think about it, right? and this story is one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work, and faith in america. i've gotten a real glimpse during the campaign, i go around with ben to a lot of different places that i wasn't so familiar with. they're incredible people. and i want to thank ben carson who is going to be heading up hud. it's a big job, and it's a job that's not only housing, it's mind and spirit, right, ben? and you understand that. nobody is going to be better than ben. last month we celebrated the life of reverend martin luther king jr., an incredible example, unique in american history. you read all about dr. martin luther king a week ago when somebody said i took the statue out of my office. and it turned out that that was fake news. fake news.
the statue is cherished, it's one of the favorite things, and we have some good ones, we have lincoln and we have jefferson, we have dr. martin luther king, and we have -- but they said the statue, the bust of dr. martin luther king was taken out of the office. and it was never even touched. so i think it was a disgrace. but that's the way the press is, very unfortunate. i am very proud now that we have a museum at the national mall where people can learn about reverend king, so many other things. frederick douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, i notice. harriet tubman, rosa parks, millions more black americans who made america what it is today. a big impact. i'm proud to honor this heritage. i will be honoring it more and more, the folks at the table, in almost all cases have been great
friends and supporters. darryl, i met darryl when he was defending me on television. and the people that were on the other side of the argument didn't have a chance, right? and paris has done an amazing job in a very hostile cnn community. he's all by himself, seven people and paris. i'll take paris over the seven. but i don't watch cnn so i don't get to see you as much. i don't like watching fake news. fox has treated me very nice, i don't know where fox is, thank you. we need more jobs, better wages. we're going to work very hard in the inner city. ben will be doing that, one of his big things. we need safer communities. we're going to do that with law enforcement. we're going to make it safe. we're going to make it much better than it is right now. right now it's terrible.
i saw you talking about it the other nice, paris, on something else, you did a fantastic job the other night. on a very unrelated show. i'm ready to do my part -- i'm ready to do my part. i will say this. we're going to work together. this is a great group. this is a group that's been so special to me. you really helped me a lot. if you remember, i wasn't going to do well with the african-american community. and after they heard me speaking and talking about the inner city and lots of other things, we ended up getting -- i won't go into details but we ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years. and now we're going to take that to new levels. i want to thank my television star over here, omerosa is actually a very nice person, she's been helpful from the
beginning, i appreciate it, very special. so i want to thank everybody for being here. could we maybe just go around the room and introduce ourselves and the press can stay for that. i'm sure they have no questions about last night because it was such a good launch. we had a fantastic hopefully new justice of the supreme court and hopefully that will be -- he'll be approved very quickly, outstanding in every way, academically. he's done almost as well as you did, darryl, in college. not quite, right? but he's a great man. i think he'll be a great, great justice. he's been very well received. it was a big evening, a very big evening. paris, why don't we start with you, go ahead. >> glad to be here, mr. president, honored to be here. i represent the 47th publicly supported historically black college and university, which i know you are very much in support of. >> they supported me. i would be in the wilderness. you are so effective.
i appreciate it. thank you. >> bill cleveland, retired capitol police officer, vice mayemay or, city of alexandria, glad to be here. >> i'm a veteran, sir. >> i'm earl matthews, i was sworn in an hour after you were. i'm also a veteran, long time supporter of yours. i've worked for you since late summer. >> good job, good job. >> belinda scott, darryl's wife, revival center from cleveland, ohio, pastor of new spirit. great amount of support in the african-american community where we are. we love the lord, we love our new president, and we're praying for our president on a regular basis. >> you know, the one thingbelin,
i thought they were married five or six years. they look so young. shall we say how many years you've been married? >> 38. >> three of the 38 under the blood. >> that's amazing. >> but can i say this, i'm so grateful that our president gives us an ear. to listen to the community, to listen. and people like us are just here to constantly put that message out into the community. >> thank you. >> and we love you for that. we love you for listening. and we thank you for that. >> thank you very much. >> darryl scott, pastor, new spirit revival center and black trump supporter. but speaking of the community, let me just say this real quick. i was recently contacted by some of the top gangs in chicago for
a sit-down. they reached out to me because they associated me with you, they respect you, and believe in what you're doing. they want to have a sit-down about lowering the body count. >> a great idea. >> they agreed that the principles, they can do it, straight from the streets, straight street guys, no politicians. they commit to if they lower that body count, we'll come in with social programs. >> if they're not going to solve the problem, we're going to solve the problem for them. what's happening in chicago should not be happening in this country. >> they want to work with this administration. >> good. >> they reached out. i didn't reach out. they want to work with this administration. they didn't believe in the prior administration. they told me this out of their mouths. >> i love it. >> mr. president, i'm with what
we call the media, we try to be fair and objective, all media seems to be in the opposition party. we report on the good that you do. i'm glad to have a seat at the table. >> it is, a lot of the media is actually the opposition party. they're so biased. and really it's a disgrace. some of the media is fantastic and fair. so much of the media is opposition party. and knowingly saying incorrect things. so it's a very sad situation. but we seem to be doing well. you know, it's almost like in the meantime, we won, so maybe they don't have the influence they think. but they really have to straighten out their act, they're very dishonest people. james? >> professor james davis. mr. president, we've been a supporter of yours from the beginning alongside mr. michael hmichael cohen and dr. darryl scott.
we're happy to be in support. >> thank you. you've been great. thank you. and lynn? >> hi, mr. president. yes, i am, as you know, the former vice president of the wonderful charity that your son founded, the eric trump foundation. i've been with your family for about eight years now, right, jared? i was an rnc speaker and i will be landing with dr. carson at hud as one of the senior advisers and director of the office of public liaison. >> that's great. you did a fantastic job. thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. president, my name is gerard robinson, a resident fellow at the american enterprise institute. i was proud to be the leader of the education policy team for the trump transition. >> thank you. >> some others behind you. >> mr. president, good to be with you, i'm from gainesville. chairman priebus called me to help run the african-american outreach for your campaign.
i'm glad to support omerosa to be here. >> i'm tucker davis. i ran your campaign in west virginia. >> we did well in west virginia. >> the miners love you. >> we love the coal miners, we're going to put them back to work. >> i was at the rnc and helped launch the video series every week, the mid-week message that reached out to millennials and college students and helped launch at howard university. >> i heard that. good job. great job. >> thank you. >> mr. president, monica alexander, public liaison supporting omerosa. >> thank you. >> mr. president, i'm with the domestic policy council, i'll be focusing on urban affairs and
revitalization. >> fantastic. >> and howard graduate. thank you. one second, we'll let the press leave. >> thank you, everybody. >> we'll step away and talk about this. with me is congressman james clyburn, the assistant democratic leader in the house, welcome, sir. >> thank you for having me. >> did you happen to hear any of that? >> i think i heard all of it, and watched it as well. >> your thoughts? >> i'm sorry? >> your thoughts? >> oh, well, you know, i hope they're successful in getting this administration to focus its attention on the african-american community. i would like to say, however, i think that people make a tremendous mistake when they look at the inner city and say there is the african-american problem. the fact of the matter is, the majority of african-americans in
this country still live in the south. basically in rural communities. many of which i represent here until the congress. i always maintained that the reason we have these crises in our cities is because we have never had a successful rural development program going in the country. we have people in rural communities that will remain in those communities if we carried opportunities to them. that's what infrastructure is all about. i've been listening to the president talk about infrastructure, big, giant infrastructure program. well, an infrastructure program for me is more than roads and bridges. it's about water. it's about sewage. it's about broadband connection. it is about saying to those kids at scotch branch high school were brown versus board of education all started, even today there are less than 40%
adoption rate in those homes when it comes to broadband. so if we are really serious about the african-american community closing the education gap, closing the income gap, then we have got to carry programs into these rural communities. i've been fighting for it ever since i've been here. if you look in the recovery act, you will see that i've inserted a formula in that act called 10-20-30. it was put into four parts of the ag bill that we had. >> sir, let me ask you this, because donald trump has met with all these african-american people so they can celebrate african-american history month. he billed this as a listening session. did he reach out to you at all to attend this meeting? >> oh, no, i don't see any african-americans there who are in government. armstrong williams i know very
well, who was there, he is from my congressional district. his family. >> i guess what i'm getting at is, most of the people in this listening session were supporters of donald trump during the campaign. should he have widened the circle? >> it seems to me that, to be successful within the administration, as in everything else in politics, you learn how to add and multiply. this whole thing of subtracting and dividing, so much, even that appointment last night to the united states supreme court, that is an appointment that will divide america like i have never seen it divided before. you may think this campaign was divisive. but you just see what happens as this vetting takes place. i would hope that there is extreme vetting. >> i will say that republicans
are looking at the democratic party at the moment and calling them obstructionist, especially in light of what happened a half hour ago. i'll try to explain it to my viewers, it's very difficult, but essentially the democrats were boycotting these committee hearings on these trump nominees, right? so the republicans suspended the rules and completely cut the democrats out because they weren't cooperating at all. now all of these nominees go to the full senate for these confirmation hearings without the democrats taking part. what do you think about that? >> well, we did take part. look, i think you know what's going on here. rushing these things through, not allowing for a full vetting to take place, putting these names up before the paperwork is ever turned in. i think that we have a right to vet these nominees. we should know what's in their records. they're all taking their signals from a president that we just elected who refused to show his
income taxes. we learn a lot about people when we look at their income taxes. we learn a lot about people when they fill out the right paperwork and turn it in. so ask them to participate in an unfair, biased system, the deputies just decided they would not be a party to that. so this is not being divisive. this is bringing attention to the fact that they're rushing these things through, not giving us the paperwork, and then with these new questions arising, they don't want them to answer the questions. >> congressman, senator orrin hatch is not happy about this, he's called democrats idiots. >> i heard that. i hate to see orrin do that. i know senator hatch very well. we've worked very closely together. he has helped me tremendously with programs. but i think he got a bit miffed. but i think he's cooled down a
little bit today. >> no, no, he just moments ago called democrats shameful. he has not cooled down. he seems to be angrier than ever. >> well, he may be. but i would hope he would just recognize that a lot of what's taken place today came out of the republican playbook. republicans had the same thing going on with obama in the first year of his administration. we have seen -- >> so wait a minute. so wait a minute. is that the democrats' goal, to, you know -- >> no, it's our goal to remind republicans that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. that is all this is. slow this process down, bring the paperwork in, when these questions arise, "the wall street journal" is writing about stuff that was falsified in their testimonies. so if someone gives what looks like false testimony, bring them back to the committee and let's answer questions about what this
is all about. >> could i interrupt you just for a moment, sir, i apologize. this is judge gorsuch who mr. trump nominated for a position on the u.s. supreme court. he's going to meet with the vice president of the united states, mike pence, and i assume he will make his way and talk to lawmakers. i know you mentioned gorsuch, you're not a big fan, but would you be interested in listening to what he has to say? >> i always want to listen to what anyone has to say. this is not about whether or not we listen. this is about whether or not we have the chance to ask questions and get some answers, whether or not we get a chance to highlight what has taken place in this person's record. and if extreme vetting is good for refugees, i think extreme vetting is good for nominees to the united states supreme court. so i think he should be subjected to some extreme vetting to see what he meant by some of these decisions that he has written about.
you know, i love people with good, smooth personalities, great writing skills. but i want to know the subject matter that they write about, whether or not that subject matter is something that i can buy into and would love to see passed on to my children and my grandchildren. but just because you write smoothly doesn't mean you're writing good. >> congressman james clyburn, thank you so much for your time, i do appreciate it. coming up in the newsroom, any minute now the senate judiciary committee gets to vote on attorney general nominee jeff sessions. we're watching both. please stick around.
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independently. sometimes even in defiance of the white house's wishes. the attorney general is tasked with enforcing our laws justly and even handedly, as well as the constitutional rights of all americans. the attorney general does not work for the president so much as for the people and does not serve the administration so much as the law. i have served in the department of justice and i have felt its he esprit de corps and its pride such as when they resisted a presidential order on wiretaps. they must be stalwart in protecting the department from meddling by the administration or congress. we need only look back to attorney general gonzales' resignation to recall what can
happen when an attorney general yields to political pressure. the attorney general also makes policy decisions about where and how to direct the department's $27 billion budget and when and how to advise congress to recommend new laws and modify existing policies. policy choices an attorney general makes can have a profound effect on individuals, communities, and the fabric of our nation. and they allow the attorney general wide discretion. this is not just a matter of saying that he will follow the law. americans should be able to trust that their attorney general will not only enforce the laws with integrity and impartiality but stand up for americans of all stripes and fight on behalf of their rights. that's the prism through which i evaluate senator sessions' nomination. i have known the senator for a decade and enjoyed working with him on legislation. but the standard is whether rhode islanders can trust that his commitment to equal
protection for all americans will be real and lasting and not just a matter of nomination etiquette. i have reviewed senator sessions' career as an attorney and a senator as well as his testimony before the judiciary committee. i have reflected on my duties and experience as attorney general and u.s. attorney in rhode island. i've also listened closely to very strong and serious concerns from rhode islanders who have made it plain that they fear what senator sessions would do as head of the justice department. for every constituent of mine who has expressed support of his nomination, 15 have expressed opposition. senator sessions' record is clear. he fought against fixing our immigration system as the leading opponent of bipartisan legislation which, had it passed, would have spared us the current debate over an ineffectual $16 billion wall. senator sessions fought against our by the partisan sentencing reform. senator sessions opposed reauthorizing the violence against women act, a bill so
important to the rhode island attorney general's office and antidomestic violence groups in our state. i suspect his opposition related to the bill's inclusion of gay and lesbian couples. public statements and confirmation testimony by senator sessions suggested he brings a religious preference to the department. that secular attorneys would be to him a suspect class compared to christian attorneys. from the state of roger williams, founded on freedom of conscience, this is an alarming consideration. he has on numerous occasions used racially charged and downright offensive rhetoric to belittle residents including rhode island's dominican community, saying dominicans essentially come to this country
to take advantage. he walked back those comments, but one wonders if it is like nomination etiquette that we have been burned by before. he has failed repeatedly to distance himself from hate groups that hold him up as a champion of their perverse ideologies. senator sessions has called breitbart news a bright spot. breitbart has published countless baseless and inflammatory articles with titles like "birth control makes women unattractive and crazy." "there is no bias against women in tech, they just suck at interviews." and "gabby giffords, the gun control movement's human heeled." senator sessions has promised to
work diligently to ensure all americans receive equal protection under the law but many rhode islanders think it's more nomination etiquette. his nomination carries additional baggage for me as the nominee of this president and white house. on the campaign trail the american people witnessed donald trump mock a disabled reporter and make disparaging remarks about immigrants and minorities, all with no publicback from senator sessions. we all witnessed chants of "lock her up" which senator sessions did not push back against and even excused in his hearing as, quote, humorously done. in mass rallies that featured beatings and the press caged and vilified, this didn't seem very humorous to americans. americans know the good guys in the movie are not the ones in the mob. the good guy is the lawman who stands on the jailhouse porch
and sends the mob home. across the country it made honest prosecutors' stomachs turn. senator sessions had so many opportunities to push back and he availed himself prior to his nomination of none. the problems did not end with the campaign. president trump and his family have brought more conflicts of interest to the white house than all other modern presidents and families combined. the proposed trump domestic cabinet is an unprecedented swamp of conflicts of interest, failures of disclosure and divestment and dark money secrets. the trump presidency is a haven for special interest influence and they're just getting started. none of this is good. all of this suggests that there will be more or less constant occasion for investigation and even prosecution of this administration. in recent history, only
attorneys general gonzales, meese, and mitchell have been as politically close to their president as sessions would be, and the gonzales, meese, and mitchell nominations did not end well. the attorney general's work is often done in secrecy, particularly in early stages. the pressure of publicity will ordinarily not be available. let me add a word about climate change which is a matter of grave concern to me and rhode island, our ocean state. climb change presents readily discernible truths on one side and a massive polluting industry that wants to deny them on the other side. senator sessions has persistently refused to discern those readily discernible truths and unfailingly lined up with that massive polluting industry. as a signal about how as
attorney general he would handle conflicts between truth and power, this is an ominous one. recent events put these concerns into particularly sharp focus. the refugee order that the president has issued highlights the problems we face over senator sessions' nomination. on a bipartisan basis experts have concluded this will harm our national security. as has been recordported in the media, a group of heavyweights from both political parties protested president trump's executive order on refugees in a letter last monday. this order not only jeopardizes tens of thousands of lives, they wrote, it has caused a crisis right here in america and will do long term damage to our national security. simply put, they concluded, this order will harm our national security. in addition to being a
substantive backfire, the order was a procedural botch. as reporters have disclosed, trump and his aides kept gop congressional leaders almost completely in the dark about the most consequential act of his young presidency, a temporary ban on refugees and on anyone from seven majority muslim nations. mattis and kelly fumed privately to associates over the weekend because they were caught unaware. the rollout of the order was between clumsy and dysfunctional. even joe scarborough said it was a disgrace. leadership on capitol hill were frustrated that they received little to no guidance or advance notice. the opening days of this administration have been a gong show, but a gong show with a nuclear button. this dangerous state of affairs puts all of president trump's nominees in a new light.
as conservative columnist david brooks has written, many republican members of congress have made a faustian bargain with donald trump. they don't admire him as a man, don't trust him as an administrator, but they respect the grip he has on their voters. but if the last ten days have made anything clear, it's this. the republican fausts are in an untenable position. the deal they've struck with the devil comes at too high a price. it really will cost them their soul. even if trump's ideology were not noxious, his incompetence is a threat to all around him. to say that it is amateur hour at the white house is to slander amateurs. the recent executive orders were drafted and signed without any normal agency review or even semi coherent legal advice, filled with elementary errors that students would have caught. i'm continuing with david brooks' column here.
things will get really hairy when the world's problems are incoming. third, it's become increasingly clear that the aroma of bigotry infuses the whole operation and anybody who allianigns too clos will share in the stench. fourth, it is hard to think of any administration whose identity is so tainted by cruelty. the trump administration is often harsh and never kind. it is quick to inflict suffering on the 8-year-old syrian girl who has been bombed and strafed and lost her dad. in years ahead, the tv screens will be filled with families being pulled apart. as former bush administration he will elliott cohen wrote in "the atlantic," it will probably get worse and probably end in calamity. david brooks concludes, trump's first ten days in office have made clear this is not a normal
administration. it is a problem that demands a response. it is a callous, bumbling group that demands personal loyalty or the axe. >> thank you for the warm hospitality of leader mcconnell today. >> some democrats are already saying judge gorsuch is out of the mainstream. >> thanks, everybody, for your time. >> first press followed by tv. >> thanks, everyone. >> paul, can you please turn? >> all right. a little confusing there, but we left the senate judiciary committee where the democratic lawmaker fromcoriating the trum administration. we switched to senator mitch mcconnell's office where vice
president mike pence had brought trump's nominee for the supreme court, judge gorsuch, for a meet and greet on capitol hill today. okay. we're going to go back to the hearing now. it's a rock and rolling morning here, back to the senate judiciary hearing on jeff sessions. >> if i run over the 22 minutes. i join my democratic colleagues in expressing my strong opposition to senator sessions' nomination. in my view it's important that every member of this committee fully understands senator sessions' views on matters that he stands to influence as attorney general. so once he was nominated, i spent a good deal of time reviewing the information he submitted. his questionnaire, his supporting documents and materials. and the records of his -- the record of his previous confirmation hearing before the committee back in 1986. i know senator sessions. we served together since i joined this body and the committee back in 2009.
and while i enjoy a good relationship with him and i respect him as a colleague, senator sessions and i have very different views about most of the issues that come before this committee, particularly on matters of equal justice. so when i started reviewing his materials, i paid special tensi attention to how he described his work on civil rights. i noticed some discrepancies in the way he had described his involvement in civil rights cases filed during the time, his time as a u.s. attorney. i asked senator sessions about these discrepancies during his hearing. i asked him about his claim that he had filed 20 or 30 desegregation cases, a claim he made in a 2009 interview with "the national review." in response, senator sessions said, quote, the records do not show that there were 20 or 30 actually filed cases. he said of the claim, quote, the record does not justify it.
i then moved on to question him about four cases that he listed on his questionnaire which asked him to list the, quote, ten most significant litigated matters he personally handled. among those ten cases that he listed on his questionnaire were three voting rights cases and a desegregation case. now, that surprised me. that's because i know senator sessions, and i know his record on voting rights. he's no champion of voting rights. he called the voting rights act intrusive and complained about states with a history of discrimination being subject to preclearance. but here he seemed to be trumpeting his personal involvement in three voting rights cases and one school desegregation case. and i guess it just seemed to me that given his previous experience before this committee, and given the concerns civil rights advocates
had expressed about his nomination, that perhaps senator sessions or the transition team was attempting to revise some of that history and to recast him as a civil rights champion. and as it turns out, that's exactly what was going on. three attorneys who worked on three of those four cases wrote an op ed stating that senator sessions had no substantive involvement in the cases that he listed as being among the top ten that he had personally handled during his entire career. and two of those attorneys also submitted testimony to that effect. one of them, jerry hebert, spent 21 years in the justice department's civil rights division. during time which he litigated cases in alabama and met senator sessions. mr. hebert provided testimony to this committee in 1986, and much of it served as a basis for
republicans on that committee choosing to reject senator sessions' nomination to the federal bench. now, after i questioned senator sessions about his claim of personally handling these four civil rights cases, senator cruz decided to weigh in on my line of questioning. he said that i intended -- that i had intended to undermine the nominee's character and integrity and that my questioning was, quote, not backed by the facts. senator cruz then proceeded to mischaracterize and attack mr. hebert whom he described as, quote, an individual who testified falsely before this committee. let's talk about that. back in 1986, mr. hebert and his supervisor at doj were called to the hill, without advance warning, to be deposed. mr. hebert's supervisor incorrectly stated that when he
was a u.s. attorney, senator sessions pressured the fbi to stop a voting rights investigation. that was not the case. it wasn't senator sessions who did that. mr. hebert's supervisor got it wrong, he misremembered. when committee staff next deposed mr. hebert, he was asked whether he observed senator sessions interfere with doj cases. and mr. hebert replied, quote, i only know what happened with our county case but my supervisor is in a better position to talk about that than i am. mr. hebert continued, he and i both have a very fuzzy recollection about the county. it was my supervisor's case primarily. then senator biden asked mr. hebert about this testimony the next day, and mr. hebert repeated the error. but after they testified, which again happened on very short
notice, mr. hebert and his supervisor returned to doj and pulled the records from the case, from those cases. they themselves discovered their error and they both immediately filed sworn declarations making clear that they were mistaken and that senator sessions did not interfere, it was senator sessions' predecessor who had interfered. mr. hebert and his supervisor did not recant their testimony, they simply corrected their testimony in writing in advance of the committee's vote on senator sessions. in mr. hebert's case, that meant he submitted a declaration in which he corrected three lines of testimony in what was a 24-page deposition, three lines. the rest of the testimony in mr. hebert's 24-page deposition was unaffected. but just to be safe, just to make sure that the committee didn't misunderstand the purpose of his declaration, mr. hebert
made it crystal clear. he wrote, quote, this revelation concerning the noninvolvement of mr. jefferson sessions in interfering with any voting rights investigations in the southern district of alabama does not affect in any way my other testimony rendered before the senate judiciary committee on march 13th, 1986. mr. hebert's supervisor, who was the one responsible for originally getting the facts wrong, also testified in person to correct the record. that's what happened. those are the facts. but when describing this history, senator cruz misrepresented what happened. so i would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. >> mr. chairman, i object. i object to the senator disparaging a fellow member of the committee here in his absence. >> well, he should be here, first of all. secondly, he disparaged me, senator. >> -- to his face. >> let him make his case and we'll go back to you. >> sure.
i object to the -- we're here to talk about the president's nominee, not a colleague and i object to -- >> don't take this from my time. >> i object to him disparaging a colleague on this committee, particularly in the colleague's absence. it's untoward and inappropriate and i object. >> can i speak to that? >> you can speak to it, but i think that we would be better off if we just let it go at this point. >> you mean let me continue my speech? >> yes. would you do that, please. >> i will, thank you. but just to be safe, just to make sure that -- okay, i did that paragraph. this is what happened. those are the facts. but when describing this history, senator cruz misrepresented what happened. >> mr. chairman, i object again. the senator apparently get the message from the chairman that this is -- >> i think the senator from texas doesn't get the message
from the chairman. >> you put the chairman in an awful bad position at this point, because i'm not sure that i know -- >> where i'm going? >> i don't disagree with anything senator cornyn said, but could you please leave personalities out of it? >> can i explain what i'm doing here? senator cruz is the very thing that senator cornyn is accusing me of doing. in my absence, he misrepresented me, he misrepresented mr. hebert. you didn't object then, did you? >> i'm not sure i was here. it would be the decent and honorable thing to do to do it in the senator's presence. >> well, get him here. he'll have a tape of it. okay. allow me to read from the hearing transcript. this is senator cruz talking to senator sessions. and what i'm doing here is i'm
clarifying senator sessions' record. >> proceed. >> senator cruz, now, earlier in this hearing, senator franken engaged you in a discussion that i think was intended to try to undermine your character and integrity and in particular senator franken suggested that you had somehow misrepresented your record. it is unfortunate to see member of this body impugn the integrity of a fellow senator with whom we have served for years. it is particularly unfortunate when that attack is not backed up by the facts. now, let's talk about who is trying to impugn the integrity of another senator. i would suggest that senator cruz was trying to impugn mine. but if you take the time to really examine the evidence, you will see that he's not making his case at all, instead he deliberately elides the truth. and this is about senator
sessions. let's go back to the transcript. senator cruz. senator sessions based his testimony on testimony written by mr. hebert. there is an irony in relying on mr. hebert, because mr. hebert testified then and attacked you then, making false charges against you. indeed i would note, in the 1986 hearing, two days later, mr. hebert was forced to recant his testimony to say that he had given false testimony to this committee and indeed to say, quote, i apologize for any inconvenience caused mr. sessions on this committee by my prior testimony. so an individual who has testified falsely once before this committee, his op ed is now the basis for senator franken's attack on you. let's unpack this. mr. hebert was not, quote, forced to recant his testimony,
he voluntarily corrected an error that he discovered himself. the committee did not catch him in a lie. he did not try to pull one over on the united states senate. that's not what happened. as i noted, mr. hebert originally testified that he had, quote, a fuzzy recollection about the incident in question. upon refreshing his recollection, he immediately and voluntarily corrected the record. but if you didn't know better, after listening to senator cruz, you would think mr. hebert was caught lying and that the entirety of his testimony was discredited. again, this is just not what happened. mr. hebert did what a good lawyer does when he discovers he made a mistake. he forth rightly admitted his error and expeditiously corrected the record. but back to the transcript, senator cruz. and indeed the basis of senator franken's attack is he claims you were uninvolved in several civil rights cases that were listed on your questionir